The Coming Plagues: Head Lice

The Coming Plagues: Head Lice

Back-to-School brings comfort, routine, and a much needed rest for most parents. Until your child comes home with head lice, that is. Anyone who has had to do the litany of excess laundry, toxic treatments, and endless louse combing knows this is a plague best avoided. But how? The way to avoid them is to know a little about them:

Lice crawl onto the body. They can’t fly or jump. Head
lice can survive on a human host for approximately 30 days. They generally cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host. A female louse lays 3-5 eggs a day. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days and it takes another 7-10 day for the louse to mature and lay their own eggs.

Knowing this, we can break a cycle of infestation by: 
  1. Not sharing items that touch the head like combs or towels, and not wearing anyone else's hat. Do not share earbuds or headphones with anyone else.
  2. Avoid activities that lead to head-to-head contact (contact sports, like wrestling, comes to mind).
  3. Keep belongings, especially upper body clothing, away from shared areas like coat closets. In many school situations, this is difficult to do. Many schools are now offering giant plastic ziplock bags for backpacks and coats that hang from coat hooks. This is a huge step forward and an item a PTA might want to crowdsource for.
  4. Upholstered shared furniture like couches in a doctor's office should be avoided. Use hard plastic or wood furniture instead.
  5. Worried you may have been around someone with lice? Lice die when exposed to temperatures greater than 128.3°F for 5 or more minutes. Prevent a lice outbreak by tossing your clothing, hat, jacket, scarf, gloves, and any other items into the washer. Use hot water (130° F or higher), and then dry on high heat. Soak your combs and brushes in the wash, too. Can’t wash an item? Place it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 3 weeks.
Another way to prevent lice is to use a preventative spray that makes your child unpalatable to lice. There are all-natural sprays that are non-toxic and use enzymes, homeopathy, herbs, and/or essential oils* .

At Haven, we use an all-natural herb and essential oil blend for our Lousy spray (much like the Bug Off! spray we make for the summer months). All essential oils in the blend are safe for children above age 6 (school age).* It is a preventative spray, meaning it can be applied before school and at school again at lunch (if your child is capable of that).

Home remedies to treat lice infestation often include unsafe things like plastic bags on the heads of small children or excessive essential oils in unsafe concentrations. Please use a treatment that is supervised and evidence based when treating your kids with natural items. We are huge fans of plants and their treatments, but not all items for sale out there are safe, especially for children. Louse combs have never harmed children, nor has shampoo and diligence.

*(Please do not assume all essential oils at any concentration are safe for kids. Shop safe companies like Haven Herbs or Plant Therapy, who have a demonstrated dedication to child safety around EOs.) as their active ingredients.

*We do not recommend using EOs at all on children under age 6 and suggest regular shampoo and extensive combing for a child that age. Please be safe with young children with developing neurological systems and avoid EO use around them.

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